In Italy with Regina Carter

In Italy with Regina Carter
Alvester Garnett
6 January 2002

The concert we just performed here in Italy with Regina was quite special. She performed on Paganini’s “il Cannone” Gauneiri-made violin for one set of the evening with her quintet. This was quite controversial to the Italian classical fans and leading up to the concert there were some dissenters to the performance.

The local press was stirring the controversy by presenting both sides of opinions. Some felt that the violin should only be performed in a western European classical setting while others felt that it was “about time” that it should be used in some other settings. Considering that Jazz is America’s classical music it would be a groundbreaking to have Regina perform on the instrument. Ultimately it merely served to drive ticket sales and contribute to making the performance a complete success! We received a standing ovation (which is a bit rare in Italy) and two encores. We would have played more but were limited by a curfew since the concert hall workers would have to be paid for overtime.

You’ll probably be reading about it soon since the New York Times, Oprah’s “O” magazine and another US magazine was here with us for the past 3 days covering the whole event. This was truly groundbreaking in that it was the first time that a Jazz musician has ever performed on Paganini’s instrument and it just so happened that it was a black female! It’s one day after the concert and it is just beginning to sink in for me!

What made it even more exciting was that it was broadcast live to all of Italy on the Radio. I knew that it was being audio and video taped but somehow in leading up to the concert I had forgot that it was being broadcast live! In a way I was glad that I forgot since usually when I know a concert I’m performing is being broadcast live I tend to play ever so slightly different. I think I probably play “safer” when I know it is being broadcast.

Today two different Italian TV stations (Rai Uno and Rai Tre) showed a few highlights of the concert. I missed the first one because I was so tired from hanging out until 6 AM here at and not getting to bed until 7. (This band KNOWS how to hang! Plus we were all excited about the event.) Luckily I caught the second broadcast and was delighted to see a lot of great video of Regina with me immediately behind her. It looked like we were having fun so I guess we were getting across to the audience our intent.

What made it even more impressive to me and this is something I didn’t know about until after the concert was that the event was actually a benefit for the September 11th Fund (United Way and New York Community Trust). This was the icing on the cake and I can proudly say that this was one of the pinnacles of my musical career.


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